Mayo ease to Rossies victory
Mayo 1-19 Roscommon 0-14
When the sides clashed in the FBD League five weeks ago, three late goals saw Mayo leave Kiltoom with victory. This time Mayo didn't leave it as late and they had the two league points wrapped up by half-time.
In front of 11,657 supporters at MacHale Park, Mayo were easy winners, while the return of Lee Keegan and Brendan Harrison is a big boost to Stephen Rochford's plans.
It was far from perfect for the home side though. Before they registered a point they had amassed three poor wides - the first a collector's item as Cillian O'Connor missed a tap-over free -while they missed the target 15 times in all.
Roscommon raced into an early lead before Mayo took over, although Rochford will question the three excellent goal chances that his defence presented at the tail end of the first-half.
All three went unclaimed as Keith Higgins and David Clarke (twice) saved their side, but more ruthless opposition would have hammered those Mayo errors.
For such great rivals there has been precious few league and championship meetings between the sides of late, but Mayo have not lost such a fixture against Roscommon since the 2001 Connacht final. Since then all eight league and championship meetings have gone Mayo's way, and the five pre-season wins for the Rossies have hardly dampened the hunger for Mayo blood.
The early action saw plenty of that eagerness to perform as Roscommon were sharper in attack. Shane Killoran pointed after five minutes, and despite Andy Moran's reply, Donie Smith and Fintan Cregg also split the posts as Roscommon led by two points after eight minutes.
But from there Mayo found their form and it arrived as they injected pace into everything they did. From Clarke's rapid kick-outs, Mayo continually caught Roscommon on the hop, and with Jason Gibbons and Fergal Boland providing plenty of running around the middle, the home side took over.
A couple of Cillian O'Connor points from play soon had Mayo level, although those scores sandwiched some great defending by Seanie McDermott as he denied Evan Regan a goal - although Boland laid him flat on his back with a wild hit afterwards.
There were plenty of other flash points in the opening half - Shane Killoran and Colm Boyle both saw black cards for late hits - but as the intensity increased so too did Mayo's lead.
Boland added two points from play in his brightest half for the Mayo senior team to date, which gave his side a 0-6 to 0-3 lead after 13 minutes.
And with Keith Higgins marshalling the full-back line well for Mayo they continued to build their advantage as eight unanswered points had them 0-9 to 0-3 ahead by the 22nd minute.
Boyle's black card saw Keegan take his seasonal bow, six days on from his All-Ireland club win with Westport, an introduction that produced one of the biggest cheers of the night.
Roscommon did settle a bit as the half elapsed though. Ciaran Murtagh dropped very deep as he worked hard for the possession, and after Donie Smith pointed, his captain followed suit to trim the Mayo lead to four points.
Points from Donal Vaughan and Conor O'Shea - a great score from the right - meant Mayo led by 0-11 to 0-5 at half-time, but the missed goal chances from Donie Smith, Enda Smith and full-back Sean Mullooly, were crucial to the winless Rossies.
Without Aidan and Seamus O'Shea for the third league game of the season, and the suspended Tom Parsons, there was big responsibility placed on the shoulders of Gibbons and Diarmuid O'Connor at midfield, but they didn't let their manager down in that department. Both men got on the scoreboard and were responsible for many of the nine Roscommon kick-outs lost before the break.
Clarke was on his toes straight after the restart to deny Tom Corcoran's sniff of a goal chance, and after he rattled the post at the other end, Cillian O'Connor, soon added the game's first goal, when McDermott upended Regan and the Mayo captain converted the penalty.
To their credit there was a response from Roscommon as Conor Devaney kicked three second-half points while Tom Corcoran also found his range, but Mayo had entered training-ground mode as they eased to victory.
Scorers - Mayo: C O'Connor 1-4 (1-0pen, 1f), F Boland, B Harrison, C Loftus, L Keegan 0-2 each, C O'Shea, D Vaughan, J Gibbons, K McLoughlin, D O'Connor, A Moran, E Regan (1f) 0-1 each. Roscommon: C Devaney, D Smith 0-3 each, C Murtagh, E Smith 0-2 each, S Killoran, F Cregg, T Corcoran, N Kilroy 0-1 each.
Mayo: D Clarke; D Newcombe, K Higgins, D Vaughan; S Coen, C Boyle, P Durcan; J Gibbons, D O'Connor; F Boland, C O'Connor (c), C O'Shea; K McLoughlin, A Moran, E Regan. Subs: L Keegan for Boyle (29 BC), C Loftus for Moran (50), B Harrison for Vaughan (53), S Nally for Boland (55), M Plunkett for O'Shea (60), L Irwin for Regan (67).
Roscommon: C Lavin; S McDermott, N McInerney, D Murray; R Stack, S Mullooly, J McManus; E Smith, T O'Rourke; S Killoran, C Murtagh (c), F Cregg; D Smith, T Corcoran, C Devaney. Subs: C Cafferkey for Killoran (24 BC), K Higgins for Cregg (44), G Paterson for McDermott (54), N Kilroy for Stack (59), B Murtagh for Devaney (62), C Connolly for D Smith (67).
Ref: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).
Sunday Indo Sport